By Walter Broeckx
Today the news came out in Belgium that Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz has been saved and bought by a foreign owner.
This club is the more or less follow up team of Royal Excelsior Mouscron a team that has gone bankrupt in 2010 and that was playing in the top division in Belgium at the time. Clubs going bankrupt even top division clubs in Belgium is no big deal one could say. Mouscron-Péruwelz is a city that now belongs to the French speaking part of Belgium after being a Flemish city in the past.
Now there is a thing about the buyers that is of interest even for an Arsenal blog. Because the buyers are a Maltese group. But that is just a smoke screen the media report in Belgium for a certain Pini Zahavi and… Chelsea. Zahavi is an important player manager who works with a lot of teams in the PL but on top of that he is one of the inner circle of Roman Abramovich.
Now they haven’t directly intervened with the negotiations but used “straw man” like Jean-Luc Gripond (former president of Nantes) and Teny Yerima (a player manager from Cameroon).
That is at least what the media are reporting in Belgium.
The reasons they did this is because Chelsea would like to put some of their youthful talents at Mouscron-Péruwelz as a good way of keeping them happy (by playing in the top division of a country) and to see how they develop in such circumstances.
One could say that in that way Chelsea could move one step further in buying more players and loaning them out together and let them develop together. So it could be a win-win situation for both clubs. Mouscron-Péruwelz could make their uncertain future a bit more certain as they were running out of cash, again… and Chelsea can have a cheap outside England training camp for their youngsters.
The new investors want to pay 8.5 million euro to buy 90 % of the shares. The current owners do have a bit of a safety net in this that if the investors don’t live up to their promises they have to pay that sum and give the shares back to the current owners. Again just following up on what the media in Belgium are saying.
Now what is also interesting is that this isn’t the only club in Belgium that has been bought by a foreign owner. Big deal you might say as many clubs in the PL are bought by foreign owners and so in fact is Arsenal.
But only a few weeks ago KV Kortijk a club from Flanders has been bought by a person we also know in England… It was our friend from Cardiff ,Mr. Vincent Tann, who bought Kortrijk. Mr. Tann who gathered a bit of his fortune with golfing, property, resorts and some gambling.
Mr. Tann bought the shares from the majority holders of KV Kortrijk for some 5 million euros. What Mr. Tann is trying to do with Kortrijk is still a bit uncertain. There has been talk about a new stadium as the current 70 year old stadium is a bit run down. Tann said however that he will not start throwing money around.
He said his experience at Cardiff has taught him a few things. So never to old too learn one could say.
But the thing is that I notice that more and more club owners seem to buy multiple teams and for the moment their reasons are not really clear. One could follow the reports in the media in Belgium and see how Chelsea is trying to get around a probable reduction in how many loan players a single club can have?
Or is this just a way of moving money around from left to right and back to the middle, from east to west and from south to north and then back the opposite way? So at the end of the day when an investigation has to be made about something nobody really knows where is what. Or who owns what.
It is so sad that Adam Brogden is no longer with us as he would have loved to dig deeper in such matters. The (money) forces behind football was what he liked to look at and his articles about third party ownership and ghost transfers and other stuff that goes on in the underbelly of football that we don’t know off. I think he would have come up with the why English football club owners are now also buying clubs in Belgium. Small clubs in fact but with little chance of worldwide exposure and chance to win things.
I bet before I spelled the names of these clubs the average football fan will not have heard about them before. So it can’t be to be very successful or to make a club go from the bottom of the Belgian league to become an all-conquering football club.
So that leaves the question: why put some of your money in to such clubs? Just being a benefactor for the sake of it? Haven’t we always been told that to build an empire like they did you don’t just give away your money?
Or is it a way of going around the FFP rules or building a way out in order to shove the money around when needed. A bit like the Manchester City model with buying and founding clubs in every part of the world?
It somehow seems to me a model that is dangerous because if one day the rich owner calls it a day the end may come very quickly for such a club.
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